Some people consider grammar an annoying technicality that doesn’t warrant much effort because what really matters is what you have to say.
We disagree. From crafting press releases to developing copy for client brochures and everything in between, writing is a passion of ours and we think it’s important to make the effort to get it right.
Mistakes can happen, of course, especially if you’re up against a tight deadline. That said, content is king and we’re always mindful of the fact that grammar glitches can colour an editor’s view. In the worst case scenario, grammatical errors could torpedo any chance your content has of making it into publication, either in print or online.
Paying attention to grammar will never kill creativity and it’s definitely worth taking time out to check your work to avoid falling into the kind of grammar traps that could raise questions about your credibility as a writer.
Here are six common mistakes:
- There, their or they’re? To be clear on when to use them, ‘there’ indicates a place, ‘their’ denotes possession and ‘they’re’ is a contraction of ‘they are’. To help you check you are using the correct word for the context click on the word and press ‘control + F’ on a PC or ‘command + F’ on a Mac.
- Its or it’s? Apostrophes will always trip up the unwary. Use ‘Its’ to indicate belonging to and ‘it’s’ to abbreviate ‘it is’.
- Who or whom? ‘Who’ is the pronoun when referring to humans or animals with names and is generally the grammatical subject of sentences, phrases or clauses. ‘Whom’ refers to the object of a verb or preposition. As a simple tip, if you could say he/she use ‘Who’, but if you could replace the word with him/her, use ‘Whom’.
- Compound modifier: Also called a compound adjective, phrasal adjective or adjectival phrase, this is two or more words that express a single concept preceding a noun, e.g. six-month period or case-by-case analysis. Typically, a hyphen (-) is used to link all the words in the compound, except the adverb ‘very’ and any adverb ending in ‘-ly’.
- Passive voice vs active voice: When using active voice, the subject performs the action indicated by the main verb, e.g. Harry is watching TV. When using passive voice, the subject acts upon the verb, e.g. the windows have been cleaned.
- Semicolon: Use this punctuation mark (;) to indicate a pause between two main clauses, e.g. ‘Call me tomorrow; I’ll tell you the answer then.’ You can also use semicolons to separate items in a sentence that already contains commas.
English grammar has its rules, and there are often exceptions to them, but with practice and a short refresher, you can improve the quality of your writing.
If you have any questions or would like to talk about the best way to get your message across, contact us on 01785 247588 or click here.